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What does the public think about artificial sweeteners?

20/2023, 31.10.2023

Survey of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assess-ment (BfR) on consumer issues

Potential health risks of artificial sweeteners (sweeteners, sugar substitutes) are a recurring topic of discussion. The public's opinion is divided. This is the result of the BfR-Consumer Monitor, a regular representative survey of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). 30 percent is concerned about these type of additives, while 34 percent of respondents are unconcerned in this respect. "We surveyed the topic of sweeteners for the first time, just like nicotine pouches and swallowed button cells," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "It turns out that they tend to rank in the middle of the pack in terms of public risk perception." In this given list of topics, microplastics top the list of concerns (64 percent). Antibiotic resistance is in second place (52 percent), and pesticide residues in food (51 percent) are in third place.

Link to the Consumer Monitor

Food, personal care products, clothing, toys: what do you think are the greatest health risks here? If this question is asked openly and without thematic limitation, the opinion is surprisingly unchanged in the long term. Undesirable substances ("pesticides", "chemicals") are mentioned most frequently (28 percent). In second place with 15 percent are certain nutrients ("sugar", "fat", "salt"), followed by plastics (14 percent) and additives (9 percent).

Information on the scientific assessment of sweeteners is provided in the BfR opinions on the topic.

Opinion No. 004/2023 of the BfR of 07 February 2023

Sweeteners: majority of studies confirm no adverse health effects - however, the study situation is insufficient

Opinion No. 005/2023 of the BfR of 07 February 2023

Do mixtures of several sweeteners pose risks for human health?

The BfR has also compiled questions and answers on the topic of sweeteners in food.


About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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